How long does it take for hemorrhoids to go away? Do they come back, and if so, why?
Hemorrhoids are very uncomfortable, as anyone who has experienced them knows first-hand.
According to the Gale encyclopedia of medicine, half of the population will suffer from hemorrhoids at some point.(1)
Most of the sufferers are between the ages of 45–65 years.
Enduring the pain and discomfort, sometimes with every step and every movement can seem unbearable, hence it is important to understand how long they last, why the condition persists and for how long.
But first, it is crucial to comprehend what the actual condition and its causes.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen, inflamed blood vessels and veins that are located under the mucous membrane that lines the lowest portion of the anus and rectum.(2)
The short answer to how long they last, for some people hemorrhoids resolve within 3 to 4 days, but not everyone.
There are 2-types:
#1 Internal hemorrhoids – located inside the anus in the lower rectum.
The doctor will not be able to visually identify their existence.
Very often this form remains undetected and without pain.
However, from pressure, they can push out to become external hemorrhoids which can become prolapsed.
#2 External hemorrhoids are found beneath the skin around the anus.
They can be felt given a physical exam by a doctor. They typically itch cause pain and sometimes bleed.
If the blood clots, it becomes a thrombus, causing even greater pain.
External hemorrhoids are a more painful of the 2.(3)
They tend to become irritated and erode. A lump or clot may form around the anus.
Once dissolved, the skin may hang out of the anus, called a skin tag (acrochordon).
It can itch and cause serious irritation and potentially infection.
The Underlying Cause Affects the Duration
In other words, there are multiple causes of hemorrhoids and each may have its own healing timeframe.
Most causes are related to things that increase pressure and interfere with the flow of blood to and from the area.(4)
Causes include the following:
» Straining when moving bowels
» Chronic constipation or diarrhea
» Sitting for long periods on the toilet
» Anal intercourse
» Diet low in fiber
Pregnancy can be problematic and create opportunities and an environment in which hemorrhoids can thrive.
Taking pre-natal vitamins with high iron content can lead to serious constipation, which in turn can create and most definitely aggravate hemorrhoids.(5)
Also, post-partum, pushing and straining during labor can create further opportunity for hemorrhoids.
By the 25th week of pregnancy, the enlarged uterus and added blood flowing to the pelvis and can place extra stress on the veins in the rectum resulting in their bulging, swelling and bleeding, causing hemorrhoids.
Those with liver and heart disease tend to suffer an increase in venous pressure which can cause hemorrhoids.(6)
Age is also a factor because the tissues that support the veins in the rectum stretch and tend to weaken over time, as we age.
Will They Come Back?
For some, it is a mere episode where more flare-ups are likely to come after resolving the current situation.
The more severe the episode, the longer it takes to heal, and it is likely more is to come, sooner or later, and with a vengeance.
But recurrences can be diminished.
Recurrences and flare-ups can even be eliminated, but usually, when proactive efforts are put in place.
As hemorrhoids recur the symptoms often worsen especially when there is no remedy or intervention involved.
Common Symptoms Include: (9)
• Anal pain
• Blood clots
Natural Recovery Healing
According to some sources, without any intervention, allowing the hemorrhoids to take their natural course can take only 3 to 4 days to heal.(10, 1)
This assumes a relatively mild case without complications and without medical treatment, see the Center for Women’s Health.(11)
Those with their very first hemorrhoids experience generally heal faster.
If the condition gets worse, or continues to recur, over time it will begin to take longer to heal.
The more severe hemorrhoids can take several weeks before healing.(1)
Things that add to intra-abdominal pressure on the veins of the pelvis and rectum, once hemorrhoids have already appeared, have a tendency to aggravate and/or cause new episodes, worsening and extending the duration of healing and recovery.
Natural Home Remedies Can Allow Faster Healing
Alternatively, there are also those that believe hemorrhoids will not resolve without some sort of treatment, according to the New Health Advisor.(12)
Even with simple home remedies serious improvement can be reasonably prompt and flare-ups or individual episodes can be controlled, reversed, even eliminated.
Home Remedies that Really Work!
An Apple Cider Vinegar soaked baby-wipes applied gently to the inflamed areas, repeating until the inflammation is gone and no symptoms remain.
Relief and improvement can be almost instantaneous.
Similarly, a sitz bath can provide relief, prepared with a half cup of apple cider vinegar into bath water.
Aloe Vera or Coconut Oil can be applied directly to the hemorrhoids, providing relief, soothing the area and bringing symptoms to a halt within a few days.
Witch Hazel is a shrub with medicinal, antiseptic and astringent properties.
After baby-wipe is immersed in a witch hazel solution, it can then be applied gently to the affected areas of the anus for relief.
It actually is able to shrink the inflammation.
Rutin, a well-known flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties is found in many plants, buckwheat, eucalyptus leaves, green and black tea, is known to strengthens blood vessels and in this way relieve hemorrhoids.
It is available in supplement form. 2 doses each day, 500mg, has been successful in alleviating the symptoms of hemorrhoids.
One individual claimed that after taking a rutin supplement for 1-week, her hemorrhoids were down to pea-size, and the symptoms were all but gone.
See Earth Clinic which includes a whole host of home remedies for hemorrhoids.
Please note that what works for one person may not work for another.
Suggestions that can Decrease the Likelihood of Hemorrhoid Flare-Ups
Common sense suggestions include modifying high-risk behaviors associated with hemorrhoids including maintaining a higher fiber and healthy diet, making sure not to strain throughout bowel movements and don’t sit there for long periods, stay hydrated, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight, if obese make a serious effort to lose weight, if possible.
Taking probiotics can also help prevent constipation, or at least it can maintain a healthy GI tract.
Another important comment is never to use toilet paper when applying any soothing or other remedies to the area.
Using baby-wipes is advised.
Added suggestions for pregnant women include the above as well as sleeping on one’s side and kegel exercises.
Very often prenatal fitness classes can aid in providing exercises that provide added circulation to this area and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
Beyond home remedies and OTC medications, there are medical solutions that a physician can address.
By the way, many OTC solutions are not recommended for durations greater than 1-week.
Be sure to read and heed any warnings.
Blood clots can form with external hemorrhoids.
The doctor can remove the blood clot with a simple incision.
Minimally Invasive Elimination of Internal Hemorrhoids:
Sclerotherapy is an injection that causes the hemorrhoids to shrink. Sclerotherapy is mainly used for grades 1 or 2 internal hemorrhoids.
The chemical solution, called a sclerosing agent, usually contains 5 percent phenol almond oil and is an effective and safe palliative treatment, see this clinical study on endoscopic sclerotherapy.
For prolapse, however, this is not effective.
Rubber Band Ligation (RBL) is another approach for eliminating internal hemorrhoids. It is used in up to 80 percent of treated patients with short-term success rates of up to 99 percent, according to the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Tiny rubber bands are placed around hemorrhoid, cutting off the blood supply.
It will wither and die within 1-week.
Coagulation uses a laser or infrared which causes internal hemorrhoid to harden, wither to nearly nothing.
These are typically for those individuals with repeated episodes of hemorrhoids that remain painful and frequent.
The procedures may require a hospital stay, local and/or general anesthesia.
The Hemorrhoidectomy procedure removes the excess tissue, the blood vessels, that are causing the bleeding and protruding.
Side effects can include urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Temporary difficulty emptying the bladder also can occur.
A warm bath can diminish the post-surgical discomforts.
There is a 95 percent effective cure rate and back to work in a week to 10 days.
Stapling is less painful than the hemorrhoidectomy and is performed on internal hemorrhoids that are bleeding or prolapsed.
It essentially blocks blood flow to the hemorrhoidal tissue.
There is the risk of prolapse, where tissue pushes out protruding from the anus.
Conclusion: Hemorrhoids Can Take Varying Time Frames for Recovery
A range of factors come into play including how long they have existed, how frequent the episodes or flare-ups and the underlying cause.
» Addressing the problem initially with home remedies can be effective
» Lifestyle changes are needed for sustained benefit include dietary and fitness changes
» In the extreme, non-invasive or a surgical solution may be in order, when all else fails and the recurrences are painful and frequent
(1)Baker, H. Hemorrhoids. in: J.L. Longe (Ed.) Gale encyclopedia of medicine. 3rd ed. Gale, Detroit;2006: 1766–1769